Cold Weather is Coming – The Mice Say So

Well this morning settled that, it makes the third day in a row we have had a mouse in our cube trap.  Up heah that is a pretty good sign that the word that a lot of us have avoided using in polite conversations, yes that dreaded word – Winter.

Every year one of the “joys of living in the country” is that just before winter sets in, we start to get a bunch of uninvited guests/critters who attempt to move in with us – mainly your garden variety field mouse.

Here are our beasts of prey – “they are fast, but lazy” – Jethro Tull, Bungle In the Jungle

Joey alias Nimbus – The Alpha Male cat
Bobbie – the Grand Dam at 16
Domino – alias DumDum you got GumGum
Hurricane Isabelle

We don’t want mice around for sanitary and other reasons, so we have the cats, who usually take care of the unwelcome guests that decide to come out and play.

Hopefully our indoor critters discourage many of the extra visitors from staying too long, but there always seem to be a certain number of “brave” or should we say stupid ones that still want to live here too. Yes the cats are rather slothful, until the opportunity comes around to “play” with a mouse, then they all want to get in on the action.  Even our ADHD (on crack) Jack Russell Terrier wants to get in on the fun and action – imagine that.

The Three Musketerrs

That is why in a house with no children, we have childproofed the cabinet doors, otherwise we get to clean up the mess and carcass of a dead mouse or try to pull a cat out from under the sink, where the mice come in – lots of fun.

We have to do that every so often anyway, especially when an extremely dumb mouse comes around while we are sleeping, the cats do what cats are supposed to do.

We keep a cube live trap baited pretty much year round to get rid of the occasional trespasser, part of that living in country thing, but really gear up from September to March (sometimes setting 2 traps and having to guests in the morning).

When one decides to investigate the trap and is stuck inside, we put the mouse relocation project into affect.

Mouse in live capture cube i.e. the Mouse Hotel

About a half-mile up the road is an old abandoned farm house, that has started to fall in over the past couple of years and is surrounded by honeysuckle.  An ideal new home for our unwanted guests.

Yes there is actually an old house in there, it was still standing when I first moved here 10 years ago.

Bennie has learned what comes out of the cube and is insufferable whenever he sees the mouse cube, jumping around, it has gotten so bad that he won’t go on his morning walk, unless we check the mouse hotel – first.

Then — if there is a mouse Bennie bounces around, prances on his back feet and makes a general nuisance of himself, until I put the “hotel” in my pocket, then he goes by the door and waits (all a twitch).  When we do the release part of the operation, he tries every way he can to get at the mouse, of course I have him on short leash and do the release with the other hand.

He is really excited by then and wants to go into the Honeysuckle to get the mouse.  A command to sit, will bring him back around (after a couple of times) and then he is satisfied that the trespasser is scared enough to not come back to his his house, he trots off.

When we have mice three days in a row, it is our sign that cold weather is on its way, irregardless of what the weathermen say, nature has different signals that go beyond technology to tell her critters to get ready, I coming.

So a word to the wise from the mice, it is time to start really getting ready for colder weather.

The Troll Beneath the Bridge

by Mary

My daughter and I hiked the Messalonskee Stream Trail yesterday morning with our Jack Russell Terrier, Bennie. Yesterday’s weather was classic Washington Irving weather – abundant sunshine, deep blue sky, but with a chill in the air warning of the winter yet to come. This trail is a favorite one, hiked many times. Each hike holds new surprises, but this one truly proved to be special.

The woods were alive with activity. Woodpeckers attacked the trees. Red squirrels and chipmunks gathered the last of the nuts.

Whenever he is outside our house, Bennie — unfortunately — needs to be on a leash. He would be gone in a heart beat chasing a squirrel if he could. Bennie met several dogs that were off the leash. One black terrier approached Bennie, and in dog language, said hello. Dogs always seem ready to greet other dogs with less of the reserve held by their human families. Bennie was nervous, yet delighted, to meet this new dog.

Many couples, family groups, and runners were also enjoying the fall sunshine.

When we reached a small bay on the stream, a heron “honked” and flew off to more private fishing grounds. Herons always sound like they are bringing up lunch when they “honk.” I thought all the herons had migrated, but this particular bird may have been flying down from the Maritimes when we startled him, or else he stayed to add to the magic of this day.

On our return trip, at one of the many bridges crossing the brooks feeding the stream, we met a family group. Their young boy, dressed in bright green shorts and a black and white checkerboard t-shirt, jumped down to the underside of the bridge calling for the troll. He did not find him, but he did spot Bennie and ran to him. Bennie greeted him with dog kisses. The boy played with Bennie while his parents talked with us about local hikes.

As we headed away, the little boy turned to me and asked, “Do you know where the troll is?”

When do we lose our innocence?

I told him that I had not seen the troll, but there were several more bridges, and that he should check each one.  He dashed off to catch up with his family.

We continued along the path back to our vehicle and our everyday lives. I think Bennie, though, would have liked to stay to look for the troll.